School Resource Packs: Cork 1912-1918

Resource Pack 3: 1914 Liam De Roiste

2 Cork City & County Archives: Through War and Rebellion: Cork 1912-1918

Year: 1914 U271/A/16 pp. 101-102 (31 December 1914) De Roiste Diaries

Background War in Europe broke out on 4 August 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Austria declared war on Serbia and Russia went to support Austria. Germany, France, and Britain all joined the conflict. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had been moved to southern Belgium to help stop the Germans, the first troops arriving with Sir John French on 12 August 1914. In a speech on 20 September 1914, Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond committed the 200,000 Irish Volunteers to fight for Britain. The Volunteers were a paramilitary group set up to defend Home Rule, which passed into law on 18 September but was suspended for the course of the war. Redmond’s speech led to a split in the Irish Volunteers when Eoin MacNeill rejected Redmond’s call to war on 24 September, but the vast majority (175,000) supported Redmond, becoming known as the National Volunteers. Many expected to be ‘home by Christmas’, and to see Home Rule in place in 1915. However, at the First Battle of Ypres on 19 October, the BEF took casualties of 2,368 officers and 55,787 men killed or injured, practically wiping it out as a force, and other troops from around the British Empire were dispatched to dig trenches across Belgium and France and defend the ground they held. At home, a rump of 13,500 in the Irish Volunteers remained. It was this group that was involved in the Easter Rising of 1916. The document Liam De Roiste was a Gaelic scholar and republican. He kept a diary throughout the period of the revolution and is an extremely important source for any historians who write about the period. These documents are two pages from his diary, and discuss the Pro German comments of his fellow Gaelic scholar Kuno Meyer (a German) in New York. He then compares the current period with the previous great rebellion in 1798. Liam De Roiste was born in 1882 in Tracton, County Cork. An Irish language speaker and enthusiast, he was founder member, in 1899, of the Cork branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League). He was a founder member of Coláiste na Mumhan in Ballingeary. He founded the Cork Industrial Development Association alongside George Crosbie of the Cork Examiner . He chaired Sinn Fein’s first meeting in Cork in 1906, which was attended by Eoin MacNeill and Douglas Hyde. He was a prominent member of Irish Volunteers movement, taking part in the march to Macroom on Easter Sunday 1916 and later smuggling arms for the I.R.A. He was elected a TD (MP) for Cork in both 1918 and 1921. In 1921, a force of 'Black and Tans' raided his home in Sunday's Well and murdered Rev. Seamus O'Callaghan, probably intending to assassinate De Roiste. He was Leas Ceann Comhairle (Deputy Chairman) of Dáil Éireann, and presided over many of the debates on the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December-January 1921-22. He took the pro-Treaty side, and was elected as a pro-Treaty candidate in June 1922. In the lead up to Civil War, he was part of a group that tried unsuccessfully to reconcile the pro- and anti- Treaty sides, but in doing so, he alienated many of his supporters, and his future career in national politics was effectively ended. He stood unsuccessfully as a Cumann na nGael candidate at the June 1927 general election and served as an alderman on Cork Corporation (now Cork City Council) from 1920-1922 until its suspension. He was elected one of three Cumann na Gael members of the reformed Cork Corporation in March 1929. He lost his Cork Corporation seat in 1930. In 1936-1937 he formed the

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